The Ukrainian crisis roundup

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Here’s what you need to know about the Ukraine crisis so far:

HEADLINES

* Ukrainians said they were fighting on in the first sizeable city Russia claimed to have seized, while Moscow stepped up its lethal bombardment of major population centres that its invasion force has yet to tame.

* The invasion has killed more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians and destroyed hundreds of structures including transport facilities, hospitals, kindergartens and homes, Ukraine’s emergency service said. 

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said nearly 6,000 Russians had been killed in the first six days of Moscow’s invasion, and that the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes. 

* A U.S. official said a miles-long armoured column bearing down on the capital Kyiv had not made any advances in the past 24 hours, frozen in place by logistics problems, short on fuel and food, and perhaps pausing to reassess tactics. 

* U.S. President Joe Biden assailed Russian President Vladimir Putin and barred Russian flights from American airspace in a State of the Union speech.

* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said if a third World War were to take place, it would involve nuclear weapons and be destructive, the RIA news agency reported. Russia describes its assault on Ukraine as a special operation, not an invasion seeking territory. 

* More than 800,000 Ukrainians have fled the fighting since the invasion began, most crossing into Poland and Romania. The European Commission proposed granting temporary residence to Ukrainian refugees. 

* At least 21 people were killed and 112 wounded in shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, in the last 24 hours, regional official said. The authorities have said missile attacks hit the centre of the city, including residential areas and the regional administration building. 

* France declared an “all-out economic and financial war” against Russia, saying it would collapse the Russian economy as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine. 

* Zelenskiy told Reuters and CNN Russia must stop bombing Ukrainian cities before meaningful talks on a ceasefire could start, as a first round of negotiations this week had yielded scant progress. 

* Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, said his government sees “no desire on the part of Ukraine” to try to find a legitimate and balanced solution. 

MARKETS, SANCTIONS AND OTHER REACTIONS

* The rouble hit record lows and surging oil prices exacerbated concerns of inflation in the global economy. 

* Russia’s Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina told bank staff the economy had come up against an extreme situation, something she said they had all hoped would not happen. The bank was doing everything possible to cope with any shocks, she said in a video address.

* Boeing BA.N suspended maintenance and technical support for Russian airlines and U.S. energy firm Exxon Mobil XOM.N said it would exit Russia, joining a growing list of Western companies spurning Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. 

* Foreign investors are effectively stuck with their holdings of Russian stocks and rouble-denominated bonds after the central bank put a temporary halt on payments and major overseas’ settlement systems stopped accepting Russian assets. 

* Two crude oil tankers due to load Russian Urals and Kazakh CPC blend this week have been cancelled as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

* The Group of Seven major economies will convene a task force to focus on freezing and seizing assets of key Russian elites, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said after a meeting of finance chiefs. 

* European Union countries are considering a ban on Russian ships entering their ports, after similar moves by Canada and the United Kingdom. The world’s biggest shipping lines MSC and Maersk  suspended container shipping to and from Russia. 

QUOTES

* “He (Putin) thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead, he met a wall of strength he could never anticipated or imagined: he met Ukrainian people,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in his annual State of the Union address to Congress.

* “Watch what you’re saying, gentlemen! And don’t forget that in human history, economic wars often turned into real ones,” Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev reacting to French comments about economic war.

(Simon Cameron-Moore, Lincoln Feast and Philippa Fletcher)

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